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Jun 29, 2007


Friday 29 June 2007, by Joep


NR. 31. JULY 2007


On June 22nd to 24th , ENCOD’s General Assembly took place in Antwerpen. Approx. 40 representatives from 12 countries assisted to a three day marathon of ideas and possible actions for the coming 9 months, until the events we plan to organise in Vienna.

The Freedom to Farm campaign will continue to be our main message. In Europe the focus of this campaign is on cannabis but at the UN in Vienna we can also refer to other plants. The campaign can become more concrete with the establishment of Cannabis Social Clubs, a model to cultivate and distribute cannabis inside non profit, ecological and controlled circuits.

In the cases where CSC’s have been judged (Spain, Belgium) judges have accepted the existence of the CSC model as legitimate. In Spain Pannagh has been acquitted, in Belgium Trekt Uw Plant has received symbolical fines. Also local authorities are interested in the CSC. They can see and understand it as something that people need and want. Harm reduction agencies should be able to accept the CSC as a real proposal, especially now that there are many stories about bad quality weed. These are important precedents for new CSC-like initiatives.

The CSC can be put up according to local legislation and practices. Also in countries where cultivation is still impossible, “virtual” CSC’s could be set up just to promote the idea. In stead of plants they could offer (legal or other kind of) services to their clients, there are experiences in the UK (LCA) and Spain (Amigos de Maria). Other campaign actions are free distribution of hemp/cannabis seeds (see the experiences of Polish Hemp Lobby)

We should not have too high expectations. Cannabis activists are not very well organised yet, and because of stigmatisation a certain level of political courage is needed to organise public actions. Meanwhile many cannabis users do not encounter any problems and don’t think about the need to push the debate for regulation.

Setting up a CSC that really works as a provider of cannabis is not easy, the rules of the association should be very well controlled as any diversion to the illegal market should be avoided: Obviously such a diversion would immediately be used against the concept of a CSC. It was also said that of course it could never be considered ENCODs responsibility to ensure no illegal activities took place in every CSC that participates in the campaign.

We may obtain media impact if we present the CSC in different countries, following a path during several months, that would end with the events in Vienna in March 2008.

We plan to start off in October, using an agenda going from country to country, publishing a flyer in different languages, pointing out the main issues: a cooperative, restricted system that only grows what is necessary for the members. No production for export, no diversion to illegal market, no access to minors, no trade.

All groups who would like to participate in this campaign and establish a (virtual or real) Cannabis Social Club in their country are requested to plan an event in their country between 1 October 2007 and 15 March 2008, and inform the ENCOD secretariat about this before 1 September, so the information can be put in the flyer that we will produce in september.

In Vienna itself, the challenge will be to open the reflection on the way drug policies are decided upon, to force our governments to discuss the lessons of UNGASS 1998 with their citizens. In the UN meeting in Vienna, a report will be produced on the achievements of ten years international drug control, and until March 2009, governments will have the time to formulate their conclusions on this report.

Vienna 2008 will be a political event if we make it into a political event. Of course promoting the debate in the member countries will be more effective than promoting the debate in the streets of Vienna. But the Vienna 2008 moment could be the starting point of all that.

Plans for actions in Vienna include the proposal to produce, together with other organisations, an alternative high level report on the global drug situation, as formal as the official one, the organisation of a three day event, including a conference with experts, a demonstration, the inauguration of a monument, and an ENCOD General Assembly in the city of Vienna during the meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Also, a new Steering Committee has been established. Apart from Virginia Montañes, Marina Impallomeni and Joep Oomen, the new SC members are Fredrick Polak, Andre Fürst and Jan Ludewig. Timothy Gluckman will be available as a contact person for all members who wish to issue a criticism on the steering committee and for some reason do not want to contact the SC directly.

Finally we spoke of the coming process of dialogue that will be organised by the European Commission in the end of 2007. Before 17 August, organisations who want to participate in this process should fill out an application. We will apply and ask all members to do so. We should be positive, but also critical. If the final dialogue does not represent more than another chatclub, we have to be prepared to operate outside of it as well.

Working groups have been established to continue the follow up of these plans. A complete version of the minutes will be available soon.

By: Joep Oomen, with the help of Peter Webster



Account: 001- 3470861-83 Att. ENCOD vzw - Belgium
Bank: FORTIS, Warandeberg 3, 1000 Brussels
IBAN: BE 14 0013 4708 6183


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